What is success?

What could bring your greatest happiness?

Conan the barbarian (or Genghis Khan, depending on who you ask) said it is “to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet — to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women.”

An old catechism summarizes some Bible verses, including Psalm 37:4, by saying man’s purpose it to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Perhaps on an average day, your mindset is somewhere in between those two extremes. But surely we know that fleeting things–Conan’s fortune or modern fame–aren’t a good measure of success.

Or do our actions betray our hearts?

From their liner notes on The Inevitable

Tom Maxwell wrote some of my favorite Squirrel Nut Zipper songs. (The band is so good I cheated to include a song in Horn Sections Make Rock Better.) He has written a fascinating reflection on his fame vs. his unknown father’s success.

Seeking honor isn’t a bad thing. It motivated the heroes in epics like the Iliad, and Christians hope to hear their Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

But, certainly for the Christian concept, this honor has eternal value. In that sense it is the opposite of fleeting fame.

What is your measure of success? What could bring your greatest happiness?